Agassiz couple nabbed at U.S. border

Agassiz husband and wife facing prison time for smuggling cash

An Agassiz couple is facing five years in prison in the U.S. after an alleged drug run went wrong.

Jonna and Robert Booth’s troubles began when they attempted to cross the border into Northgate, North Dakota on Monday afternoon. They were traveling in a 1999 Coach Camper, and were chosen for a secondary inspection. An affidavit filed with the United States District Court states that the husband and wife both claimed they were not carrying more than $10,000 USD.

An inspection of the vehicle revealed that $73,080 was stowed away in a panel of the camper. The Booths were immediately separated and detained. While they both initially claimed to officers that the money was won gambling, Mrs. Booth is said to have changed her story when officers told her they found her journal, and knew that the money was actually from the sale of marijuana.

Booth then told officers the couple had endured financial hardship, and in January this year they had began running drugs to Manitoba about once a month. She could not say how much marijuana had been transported, and how much they had made.

They had crossed into the U.S. to avoid traveling through the Rockies, after learning of poor weather in that area. They had just finished transporting an unknown amount of marijuana, stowed under their front seats as they traveled across Canada, to a house in Winnipeg.

Initially, the couple had dropped two hockey bags full of marijuana in a ditch where it was to be picked up. When they couldn’t get a hold of the person who was supposed to pick up, they arranged to drop it off at the Winnipeg home.

Agassiz RCMP said the couple were not known to them prior to hearing about the case in the news this week. The Booths are not facing drug charges, but are facing charges of smuggling bulk cash into and out of the United States.

At a hearing on Tuesday, Robert Booth told the judge they had no plans to sneak money into the United States, but were just trying to get home.

The Booths were not asked to enter a plea on Tuesday and a detention hearing was scheduled for Wednesday.

A trial has been set for Dec. 10, 2013.

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